National, News

Clearing agents protest hefty renewal fees

By Bida Elly David


South Sudan Clearing Agents and Freight Forwarders Association (SSCAFFA) has announced an indefinite strike in protest of the significant increase in license renewal fees imposed by the government.

In a letter issued on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, SSCAFFA stated that they will only return to work once the customs division of the South Sudan Revenue Authority (SSRA) revises the license fees from SSP 350,000 to 7,000 US dollars.

According to a letter seen by No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper, the association of clearing agents emphasized that the hike in the license renewal fee does not comply with the South Sudan Financial Act.

“In protest, all clearing agents have ceased operations effective immediately; this halt in work will continue until the fee hikes are retracted and a fair, transparent dialogue is initiated,” the statement partly read.

They termed the license fee increment unconstitutional.

“We condemn the recent unconstitutional increment in the license application and renewal fees by the customs revenue division that raised the fees from SSP 350,000 to $7000,” they protested.

SSCAFFA emphasized that the fees have imposed a burden on business consigned companies, especially small and medium-sized businesses, risking widespread job losses and economic disruption.

Confirming the development to this outlet, Khamis Wilson, an official of the clearing and forwarding association, criticized the hefty fee, stating that it could jeopardize the country’s economy if not handled within the law.

“Initially, in the financial act, we were subjected to paying annual renewal fees that were 350,000 South Sudanese pounds, and from that money, it has gone to $7,000 for an existing company,” he explained.

According to the Khamis, a newly established company pays $10,000, which he said is too much of an imposition.

The agent further argued that the newly introduced fees have never been tabled before the parliament for deliberation to be passed into law.

“Any policy going out is supposed to be passed first by the parliament as a law, and as such, the policy has not convinced the freighters association,” he echoed.

He urged the government, particularly the SSRA customs decision, to revise the fees and reduce them with immediate effect.

“We know the government needs taxes, but I recommend that they at least reduce the fees to not that much for both existing companies and newly registered ones,” he urged.

“We as an entity will comply because it is our obligation to pay taxes, and thus we also need to be compromised,” he added.

Khamis called for an immediate reduction of the increased fee, urging both customs divisions and the South Sudan Revenue Authority (SSRA) to engage with them to establish a reasonable fee structure.

He said there is a risk of further economic instability as traders may stop exporting goods to Juba.



Comments are closed.